posted on 09/07/2021 09:51
(credit: SAEED KHAN / AFP)
An Australian said she feels “blessed” after her three-year-old son with autism was found alive, drawing muddy water from a stream in the country’s countryside, after three days of searches that left the country in suspense.
Police used a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging cameras, but were unable to find the boy in the early hours after he was reported missing on Friday morning at the family’s remote property in the state of New South Wales, 150 km northwest of Sydney.
Rescue teams and police, including a horseback unit, searched for the child over the weekend and found the boy, AK Elfalak, on Monday.
“He’s with us. He’s safe, well and healthy. That’s all that matters,” his mother, Kelly Elfalak, told reporters Tuesday at the family home in Putty.
“I want to thank everyone, I feel so blessed,” she added.
AJ has some scratches and bruises, according to the mother. “Other than that, he’s perfect,” he said.
Police explained that the density of the land complicated their search for the boy, who was found a few hundred meters from his home.
“The young man was sitting in a small stream and drinking water. He managed to get the attention of the pilot and the crew,” said New South Wales Police Superintendent Brad Monk.
Images taken from the police helicopter show the boy sitting in cloudy water in a stream, using his hands to bring the water to his mouth.
The search for the boy, who according to police has autism and does not speak, was the main news in Australia in recent days.
“What a relief, I can’t imagine how traumatic this experience was for AJ and her parents,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Twitter.